Examples of real applications of Drones

Here are some examples of how the drones revolutionized agriculture, making it more profitable, productive and sustainable.

Case 1

Produce farming with drones

In the state of California, tomato producers are looking to the cloud and drone technology to detect where their crops might be at risk. See the video and understand how the use of drones can really improve agriculture.


Case 2

OCEALIA Group is a French farming cooperative with 7,200 members and nearly 900 employees. Since 2015, five drone operators have been flying the group’s two AIRINOV multiSPEC 4C sensor-equipped SenseFly eBee Ag drones in order to gain valuable fertilization data.


“The drone data is complementary to satellite imagery, which we still use for the general monitoring of our members’ crops throughout the year,” said Romain Coussy, manager of decision support tools at OCEALIA. “However, for providing quick tips on fertilization, the drone is bestadapted to the job. By using the drone for aerial crop scouting, combined with data processing and analysis from AIRINOV, plus our complementary controls, we can provide members with fertilization advice between 48 hours and four days after a flight.”


Since 2015, OCEALIA’s two drones have been used to help over 300 individual farmers, flying over 3,900 ha (9637 ac) of oilseed rape and 3300 ha (8,154 ac) of cereals like wheat, barley and triticale.

“As agronomy experts, our role at AIRINOV is to help OCEALIA’s farmers increase their yields and improve the quality of their crops – mainly cereals and oilseed rape,” said Romain Faroux, CEO and co-founder of AIRINOV. “We do this by analyzing imagery with a strong agronomic approach that goes way further than typical NDVI maps”.
“The OCEALIA farmers who have used our AIRINOV-supported drone service have recorded an average yield increase of 10%, compared to parcels analysed using traditional, non-drone methods,” said Coussy.


“This boost in yield is obviously of great value to OCEALIA’s members,” Faroux said. OCEALIA’s results are a solid, real-world example of how drone data and expert algorithmic analysis can have a real beneficial effect on farmers’ businesses.”

Source: http://www.rcrwireless.com/20160829/big-data-analytics/drones-case-study-tag31-tag99


Drones disadvantages in agriculture

  • Cost of Purchase

Drones qualified for the use in agriculture are quite costly. For some drones, the heavy cost includes the cost of hardware, software, tools and imaging sensors.

Buying a drone that is not equipped with the necessary features can be cheaper. Besides this, purchasing drones equipped for the use in agriculture can be costly in the short run, but worthwhile in the long run.

  • Federal Laws (depend on the country)

The use of drones for agriculture purposes is considered commercial. This means that the farmer needs to undergo FAA operator training (in USA) in order to acquire a remote pilot certificate or to hire an operator with such qualifications. FAA also demands that drones must fly at an altitude of less than 400 feet.

  • Airspace Interference

Agricultural drones share the same airspace with manually manned aircraft, so they are proneto interference. Therefore, it is recommended to the farmer manage his flight with the local airport or the FAA (in USA) before doing it. Continue reading “Drones disadvantages in agriculture”

Drones improve the agriculture

Mapping Software for Drone use in Agriculture | DroneDeploy

Now that you realize what drones actually do, understanding already a little bit how they help farmers and solve many problems in the agricultural process, let’s see a little more about what solutions and advantages they brought to farmers.

  • Real-time precision – One of the main advantages of drones is the accuracy with which drones can detect and monitor large areas in real time.
  • Flight frequency and costs – Drones have a great advantage over other monitoring systems, which is that they can make flights much more frequently, at low cost, and throughout the production period.

A drone can get images with higher quality and precision in real time and can fly below the clouds, which a satellite can not do. Besides that, with a satellite it is only possible to get images once a week or once a month.

  • Information and monitoring of crops – The use of drones allows the farmer to have a precise and real-time view of the crop. The raw data collected by drones is translated into information useful to farmers thanks to specific algorithms. Some of the information these images provide are:
    • Plant counting: plant size, plot statistics, stand number, compromised plots, planter skips
    • Plant height: crop height and density
    • Vegetation indices: leaf area, anomaly detection, treatment efficacy, infestations, phenology
    • Water needs

Thus, drones provide to the farmers high-quality aerial images and allows to detect pests, understand the best areas for planting and monitor the development of their crops, from planting to harvesting.

  • Reduces costs and improves efficiency – The use of drones allows reduce equipment and labor costs, allowing to have efficiency gains in the execution of tasks.
  • Improves and helps in farmers’ decision making – Drones, by allowing the farmer to have a better knowledge of their crops in real time, allows the farmer react faster, which can help prevent crop loss and increase the productivity.
  • Increase of sustainability and improvement of strategies – Drone can also help farmers with the use of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides, and even water use, in a way that is based on the need to reduce costs and pollution. In the long run, data provided by drones provide a more detailed picture of how cultures are responding to these strategies, which can lead to more efficient use of limited resources and a strategy that allows reduce costs, pollution and that take into account the resources available.

Benefits of agricultural drones


In this way, what started to be a technology for military use may end up better known as a green-technology tool that allows the improvement of the agriculture industry, providing better products, with less chemical substances, less pollution and with more sustainability.


How drones have revolutionized agriculture and solve many problems

To realize how the drones have revolutionized agriculture, solving countless problems and bringing innumerable advantages to farmers, we must first realize a little bit about the uses of the drones in this industry and what they actually allow to do.

Drones fly over the field and take high resolution pictures. The data gathered is directly sent to the cloud/software and made available to the customer. Thanks to this data, the user can select the information wanted from the images and make different prescription maps depending on the operation the farmer wants to perform on the field.

Source: http://cema-agri.org/sites/default/files/publications/Flyer_Q%26A%20drones%20FFA%20%202016%20FINAL.pdf

The industry of agriculture has been changing and all of his processes and machines has been passing through a revolution among the years, especially a high-tech revolution. It is here that drones have played a key role in enabling farmers to plan their strategy based on collecting and processing data in real-time. In a more general way, drones can provide to the farmers three types of detailed views:

  1. First, seeing a crop from the air can reveal patterns that expose everything from irrigation problems to soil variation and even pest and fungal infestations that aren’t apparent at eye level.
  2. Second, airborne cameras can take multispectral images, capturing data from the infrared as well as the visual spectrum, which can be combined to create a view of the crop that highlights differences between healthy and distressed plants in a way that can’t be seen with the naked eye.
  3. Finally, a drone can survey a crop every week, every day, or even every hour. Combined to create a time-series animation, that imagery can show changes in the crop, revealing trouble spots or opportunities for better crop management.

Continue reading “How drones have revolutionized agriculture and solve many problems”

Laws and rules

Depend on the country that you live some regulations and laws can be different, so search better in you country.

For the USA:

FAA Regulation

  • Flying drones for agriculture is always a commercial operation, according to the FAA
  • By law:
    • The pilot must have Remote Pilot Airman Certificate, must be 16 years old and must pass TSA vetting
    • The aircraft must be less than 55 lbs and must be registered if over 0.55 lbs (online)
    • To operate the drone you must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight), must fly under 400 feet, must fly during the day, must fly at or below 100 mph, must not fly over people and must not fly from a moving vehicle

EPA Regulations – By law, the EPA has the right to access any and all data generated by drones flying over your property

Here is an excellent site where you can find all the rules for drones in your country: https://www.loc.gov/law/help/regulation-of-drones/

Interference With Other Aircraft

  • Other manned aircraft may share the same airspace as an agriculture drone – it is important to file a flight plan with your local airport/FAA office



Ok, now you have the hardware, but you also need to have a good software

In the purchase of a drone for agricultural use, most of them already include software to analyze the data obtained. However, these mostly allow other software to be used.

Below are some of the most popular high quality software.


  • Converts multispectral and RGB images into accurate index maps, like NDVI, and orthomosaics of your fields
  • Converts a series of aerial images into 2D orthomosaics, 3D point clouds and 3D mesh models
  • Pix4Dag, together with select multiespectral cameras, offers both desktop and cloud processing
  • Has a index calculater, that generates index maps, like NDVI
  • Index maps combine information from the reflectance maps to highlight plant health differences that are directly or indirectly related to issues such as water stress, nutrient deficiencies, pests or more

See more information here: https://pix4d.com/product/pix4dag/


  • AgVault is an image and data management platform
  • Handles all aerial color, NIR, and NDVIdata
  • AgVault Mobile tracks crop growth stages, weeds, compaction, storm damageand more
  • AgVault Mobile photography is stored and managed alongside your aerial drone data making it a comprehensive image data solution
  • AgVault software works with many of the best ag dronesavailable today, including the DJI Mavic, Phantom 4, Phantom 3, Inspire, and Sentera Phoenix 2 and Omni
  • The price ranges from $ 5 / month to $ 29 / month

See more information here: https://sentera.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/AgVault_Lit4012D_WEB.pdf

There is also other equally interesting software, including:

One important thing is the fact that if you choose a drone without connectivity, you need to invest on it in order to have a good online coverage, if you do not already have it. You can also choose a drone with the capability of capturing and storing data locally in a format that can later be processed.

Congratulations, you are ready to start! Your agriculture will never be the same



Now, you need the right sensor

When you buy a drone, it comes with a built-in sensor. However, many also adapt to other sensors that might please you more

  • Types of sensors

It is not enough to have the drone, it is also necessary to have a proper camera. It is necessary to acquire a high-quality camera in order to get the best possible images and get the best benefit of the use of drones in agriculture.

RGB sensors

An RGB camera delivers the three basic color components (red, green, and blue) on three different wires. This type of camera often uses three independent CCD sensors to acquire the three color signals. RGB cameras are used for very accurate color image acquisitions.

NIR sensors

These cameras take near-infrared images (NIR) and provide additional details or can see through certain obstacles that can not be accomplished with standard visible spectrum imaging cameras or are invisible to the naked eye.

NIR or Near Infrared cameras, or near infrared, are very important for the sensing in agriculture because it provides information about the physiological and health status of the plantations.


A multispectral camera captures image data at specific frequencies across the eletromagnetic spectrum.

Multispectral cameras are cameras that have multiple sensors. Each of them is a high-quality filter specific for capturing various reflected waveforms.

In this way, these cameras capture and separate the different types of color and are able to capture frequencies invisible to human eyes, such as infrared.

  • Models

Here are some of the most popular sensors for drones:

Multispec 4C Sensor
  • Compatible with all drones
  • 1,2 Mpix /1280x960px
  • 4 sensors: 550, 660, 735, 790nm
  • Low luminosity (>3000 lux)
  • Global shutter
  •  Sunshine sensor
  • SD card storage
  • IFOV : 0,9mrad / FOV : 67°x53°
  • 78x121x61mm
  • 160g
Sequoia Sensor
  • Multispectral camera for agriculture
  • Self-calibrated using the Sunshine sensor
  • RGB camera 16 Mpx for scouting
  • High photo rate (1 picture per second)
  • Independent from the drone
  • Standard protocol (PTP) for communication with drones
  • USB powered

There are many other sensors like:

  • The sentera double 4k
  • The sentera quad
  • The sentera ndvi single sensor

More information here: https://sentera.com/sensors/

Remember: many of the drones that are on sale already have a camera included, but many of them can adapt to other cameras

Almost there! Now, go to STEP 3!

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